Skip to main content

Waiouru soldier is district’s top citizen

Waiouru Military Camp’s Chief Ammunition Technician WO2 Joe Callaghan values his community, and they couldn’t agree more.

17 June, 2024

For Warrant Officer Class Two Joe Callaghan, life in Waiouru is not just about his role within the Army.

He’s a parent of four children and a member of the Waiouru Primary School Board of Trustees. He’s also been the instructor and manager of the Waiouru Taekwondo Club for six years.

He is currently one of two Ruapehu Citizens of the Year. In December 2023 he received the Waimarino-Waiouru Citizen Award from the Ruapehu District Council for his leadership of the club.

WO2 Callaghan took over the club in 2017 as the lead instructor and manager to ensure it stayed open for the children and youth of the Ruapehu region.

Students today come from as far as Ohakune and Raetihi as well as Taihape to participate in twice weekly sessions all year round during the school terms.

“The club is also active in that it participates in up to six tournaments around the country every year,” he says.

“Competition includes both Kyorugi (full contact sparring) and Poomsae (patterns and forms). One of my students who started with the club eight years ago is now a black belt and at 14 years of age has already competed in Australia.”

WO2 Callaghan is also a successful applicant of Whiria Nga Hua, a funding initiative by Ngati Rangi who fund successful applicants in their pursuit of initiatives that promote whanau wellbeing.

“This funding will now help me remove even more barriers for anyone wanting to learn Olympic style taekwondo, especially around equipment and finances. The club now has new gear and the funding has already helped 18 club members get to the Bay Open Tournament in Tauranga earlier this year.

What I love about teaching taekwondo isn’t the medals that the students bring home. It’s the growth that they go through in the long term.

"There are so many life skills and lessons in resilience that is gained from doing this. Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, discipline, manners, spatial awareness, co-ordination, agility, speed...these are some of the areas students grow in!”

Fellow recipient Stuart Shaw, Taumaranui, received the Northern Ruapahu Citizen Award for his community volunteer work.

Ruapehu District mayor says both recipients were great examples of people “who work for many years doing the important mahi that underpins the fabric of our communities”.